Francesco Felicioni has patented snow chains that, in case of bad weather, install themselves on the tires, simply by pushing a button.
In the era of autonomous driving, electric cars and all the future that the automotive industry offers us every day, the fact that in the event of snow and ice, snow chains must be mounted as it was 20 years ago.
Although this accessory, essential to be able to move in total tranquillity when the road surface is entirely covered with snow, in recent years has shown some innovation, does not yet prescind from the fact that the assembly must take place outside the car, perhaps under a beautiful snowstorm.
But if car manufacturers still haven’t thought about how to fix this, the right idea. at least on paper, she came to a Trenitalia Frecce driver.
The innovative idea
Born in 1976, and living in Montegranaro, Francesco Felicioni, a graduate in industrial design in Milan, has patented an innovative system to say the least, which provides for the self-installation of the snow chains around the tire, without having to get out of the car, on the contrary, simply by pushing a button inside the passenger compartment.
The system foresees the presence in an unspecified area of the car of two 3D printers (one for each driving wheel) which in a few minutes (about two) create a polymer chain (in practice, plastic) around the rubber, allowing to continue the march even if the asphalt conditions are the most difficult.
“By sitting comfortably in the car”, explains Felicioni, “and pushing a button from the dashboard, what I have prepared will be able to cover the wheel effectively to go with the gear and road holding, replacing the snow chains”.
“If automation has made great strides in the world of automobiles, in the field of chains we have totally fallen behind,” continues Felicioni. “The slight recent improvements concern only the self-pulling chains, a way to slightly facilitate the application”.
At the end of the snowy areas, the innovative snow chains created by the 3D printer cannot be retracted and then reused, but will have to be cut, rolled up and thrown into a plastic recycling container.
The project, which as mentioned was a patent in Italy, waiting to be protected globally with copyright, was proposed at the 2018 Turin Motor Show, but at the moment there is no news regarding the interest of some car manufacturer.
Perhaps the problem concerns the running costs of this system, with the polymer yarns that will have to be refilled and that will entail good costs, not to mention the presence of two 3D printers which, even if small, must be fast and therefore fall within the range of the most expensive models.
What if the printer doesn’t work for some reason? In practice, the timeless snow chains must always be on board. In short, the project looks good, but perhaps it must be refined and brought to an industrial level on a large scale, the one used by car manufacturers to produce their vehicles.
Felicioni relies heavily on the ongoing innovation in the automotive sector to find buyers for its patent. “In a few decades, however, precisely in 2030, we will reach level 5, with machines that will leave the factory without even steering. Futurologists even hypothesize 2040 as the zero-accident calendar year. “
Felicioni continues: “It is completely paradoxical to compare the ascending vector on automated driving with the absolute dexterity, decidedly more than retrograde, in responding now to the snow problem, where we are forced to get out of the passenger compartment between harsh and very often with the storm to rage, and in many cases improvising without knowledge of the cause in proceeding with the application of the supports around the rubber, often without even being able to do it adequately “.